The attention of many attendees of E3 show that took place this spring was paid to Oculus VR and Sony Morpheus – two VR helmets that were represented to the public. Both headsets, and mainly Oculus Rift, have enjoyed positive feedback and it was declared the virtual reality was almost here.
However, among the storm of enthusiastic responses some critics did appear. So is it true VR helmets aren’t as good as their creators make us think? Though the overwhelming majority of people seemed to turn a blind eye to existing shortcomings we would like to examine them in more detail.
To begin with it’s worth noting that there are no substantial differences between Rift and Morpheus when speaking about technical parameters. The resolution rate is the same, although Oculus surpasses Morpheus by a wider vision field. But everyone will agree that a difference in 20 degrees is not a decisive advantage at all.
Neither helmet demonstrated latency or lags as well as there was no trouble with nausea.
Considering external design many participants agreed Morpheus looked much more closer to a ready consumer product than Rift. Moreover, Rift is still inconvenient for people wearing glasses. Generally, in terms of ergonomic characteristics Morpheus seems to be more perfect and people with glasses find it comfortable to wear.
Neither Rift nor Morpheus are ready products. Every now and then the developers are not tired to remind the appearance of headsets will change greatly and existing samples are only demo versions.
But all the aforementioned issues are not critical and can be solved in a proper way improving thus technical characteristics. Some experts outline a far more complicated problem. It’s a resolution. The resolution rate both headsets run at does not provide a full immersion effect.
Operating under 1080p may seem not bad at all but the grasp of situation changes taking into account the fact the display is located several millimetres from your eyes. We can conclude that 1080p is definitely not enough to achieve full immersion.
Looking at how well other components interact with each other we assume both headsets will undergo substantial improvements and the delay of a release date was announced in order to create a better product. Indirect evidence to it may be the attempts of Oculus luring the best developers and engineers to strengthen its team.
Finally, all demos represented were suspiciously short. They lasted for about three minutes and there was only one game that lasted a little longer. Does it mean the prolonged immersion into VR harms a gamer is some way or prevents him from staying more? Ian Shiels, a designer at EVE Valkyrie, in his interview to Metro, a British web resource, persuades short duration is not connected with any side effects a gamer experiences. He conducted experiments where people played about twenty minutes and everything was ok. He even revealed that it took approximately 90 seconds to become accustomed to the VR helmet.
“It’s not motion sickness, it’s simulation sickness, which is the opposite. Because there is no motion occurring with your body, but your brain thinks you’re moving, you get a disconnect, which is not good. But you can train yourself so the effect is lessened and there’s only a small number of people where it’s a real problem”, explained Shiels.
Metro was also surprised by the absence of first person shooters, the kind of game everyone would like to try first and foremost having the VR helmet within the reach of the hands. Ian Shiels has his own explanation for this situation.
‘I don’t think any particular genre is impossible in VR because there’s been such little work so far by any dedicated teams,’ says Shiels. ‘I think if you consider the improvements in the hardware in just a year, I don’t think the focus has been on the software and a lot of the ports we’ve seen so far, in the genre, have been relatively low in terms of work intensity’.
Answering the question concerning low resolution rate Shiels hopes both developer teams will do their best to improve the indicator in the consumer versions.
‘We have to watch this space along with consumers’, he admits. ‘We’d be confident that the next step up, which is probably 1440 vertical pixels, that that would be fantastic looking; just sublime. But I couldn’t say when that would happen and if it’d be for the first consumer versions’.